An accident or illness can be devastating, often leaving many victims suffering with ongoing physical and emotional injuries. This can impact quality-of-life in a number of ways, including limiting or preventing their participation in normal activities of daily living, life roles, work, relationships and leisure pursuits.
While the nature of a victim’s injuries and/or physical impairments are often the initial consideration(s) to be addressed, it is equally important to ensure that consideration be given to the emotional impact that may befall a caregiver or the victim’s family.
Unfortunately, the impact that an injury or illness can have on the victim’s support team can be neglected or simply slip through the cracks. This has the potential to lead to caregiver stress, burnout and role strain. It is therefore integral to ensure that the mental health of a caregiver is also taken into consideration when working with or implementing a treatment plan with a client.
Several common indicators of caregiver stress and burnout can include:
- Increased anxiety, depression and mood changes, such as irritability
- Fatigue and poor sleep hygiene
- Development or exacerbation of current health problems
- Cognitive limitations, including difficulty concentrating
- Growing feelings of resentment
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
Some supports that can benefit caregivers include:
- Caregiver assessment – in order to determine caregiver needs, implement supports and make referrals when appropriate
- Caregiver education and counseling – to identify appropriate resources and make appropriate decisions regarding care
- Respite Care – to provide temporary relief from the considerable responsibilities that accompany being a caregiver
- Individual and/or group therapy – to minimize stress and learn strategies to alleviate the burden of balancing work and family
- Financial support – to assist with the financial burden associated with family caregiving through accessing appropriate benefits
- Other support services – such as home delivered meals, peer support, adult day care, etc.
If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing caregiver burnout, it is important to speak to a knowledgeable healthcare provider. Please be directed to the following link for an On-line Caregiver Self-Assessment: